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Unlocking the Language of Assessments

So, you get the value of taking assessments to gauge your personality, but as you get into the results and analysis, you soon get lost in the terminology thrown at you. You’re not alone...even those of us who use these tools to help business clients improve their outcomes in their careers have to ask for more clarity on what’s being measured, and what it means.

I quickly realized that if I was struggling to understand the terms, so would my clients. Therefore, the first order of business needs to be to set the table with those concepts and terms which when you understand them fully, you can realize their impact on your own assessment results.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but are those commonly used in the process:


I find many people mistake this as “how I see myself,” but it’s not. Self-awareness is realizing how other people see you. We exist for the most part in our own heads. When we can step outside, and put on the perception of others of ourselves, we are self-aware. The great value in this is that while you might know the intention behind what you say, or how you act, the perception of others can be far different. And we all know perception is reality.

Imagine if you were trying to work with a client, and they seemed a bit distant or unresponsive. Your approach, in your mind, was open and forthcoming, however your client may see it as pushy and aggressive. Solving this could be as easy as asking for their honesty, and a sincere apology from you that they felt pushed or overwhelmed. Solving this for future clients (because after all if one person felt this way, how do others perceive you?), you can take steps to rein in your approach.


Did your mother or father ever tell you “Think before you speak” or “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything”? They were preaching self-regulation. If you’ve gone through the process of self-awareness, you’re more likely to practice self-regulation, and you control or redirect disruptive (negative) impulses before you speak or act. Once you say something that’s regrettable, it really can’t be undone, even when you offer a sincere apology. So, mastering self-regulation can truly save you broken trust, lost business deals and on a personal level, failed relationships.


You may know this one, but how it’s important to you in business is key to understand. What makes you get out of bed in the morning? What could you do all day, with joy and unceasing energy? Some people don’t pay as close attention to motivation as they should, and if you don’t fully examine what keeps you moving, you can halt your progress altogether.

Driving Forces

This is closely related to motivation, but as motivation looks at WHAT drives you, Driving Forces is a list of categories that define motivation — the WHY of what motivates you.

Psychologist Eduard Spranger identified six types of driving forces:

• Theoretical - the interest in the pursuit of truth

• Utilitarian - a passion to get a return on investment, whether it’s time, money or other resources

• Aesthetic - interest in experiences, and achieving harmony

• Social - interest in helping others achieve their potential

• Individualistic - achieving position, and using that position to influence

• Traditional - pursuit of the highest meaning in life or in spirituality

Every person has some degree of each of these, and we’ll talk more about these later, but in assessing people, it’s important to focus on the four highest scoring of these. What makes you tick? Sometimes the results surprise people, and the insights help them understand how to use their “why” to build on their strengths and their success.

Social Awareness

Just as self-awareness looks at others’ perceptions of you, social awareness takes it a step further and keeps you focused on others’ emotional makeup, and how your words and actions will affect them. How accurately you can “read” someone is critical if you want your communication with them to be its most positive, effective, and productive.

Emotional Clarity

This applies to you as well as others you are working with. Are you aware of how you are feeling when you are interacting with someone, and are you aware with how they are feeling? If you don’t have clarity, it could lead to disastrous consequences. If you’re not sure and the relationship is important enough, it can be as simple as asking how someone is feeling about, for example, a proposal you sent or a contract you’re about to sign.

Social Regulation

As you become more proficient in how you communicate with people, your ability

to influence the emotional clarity of others is social regulation. Managing relationships is challenging, but if you can steer them to put both parties in a positive mindset, the results will obviously be more successful for everyone. Truly, practicing open and honest communication will lead to mastery in social regulation, as it becomes second nature to intuitively tap into someone else’s feelings about a situation, and act accordingly to ensure they’re in the best frame of mind to start, build and continue a relationship with you.

All of these terms are part and parcel of the assessment process, which is designed to help you take that deep look at yourself in order to improve. It’s an education for everyone, because let’s face it, we’re all so busy that we don’t take enough time to examine our behaviors, our emotions, our motives, or our motivations. But that’s exactly where we need to look if we’re ever to take the next step up toward the best version of ourselves.